San francisco

Population: 850,000
Current emissions: 5.1M tCO2e (2013)
Per capita emissions: 6.6 tCO2e/person (2010)
Reduction Target: 80% below 1990 levels by 2050

Recognized as its country’s ‘Climate Action Champion’, the City and County of San Francisco achieved overall emissions reductions 14.5% below 1990 levels in 2010. Building upon these recent successes, the City of San Francisco recently launched its ‘Zero-50-100-Roots’ campaign, with goals for zero waste to landfills by 2020, 50% trips by bus or bike, and 100% renewable energy by 2025. Below are some of the City’s innovations that are helping to make this a reality.

Curbing curbside waste, and more.
The city implemented a mandatory recycling ordinance which requires all businesses and residents to separate their recyclables, compostables and garbage. The ordinance is enforced with fines for non-compliance, and residents are offered free services and assistance, including bin labels, multilingual trainings, recycling events, toolkits, composting pails, and more. Users can save up to 75% on their garbage collection service fees (recycling and compost is generally free) by reducing their bin sizes or frequency of pick-up. RecycleWhere allows residents to find reuse and recycling options for all items from furniture to clothing to electronics. The City has further banned the use of polystyrene packaging by food vendors and restaurants, requiring them to instead use recyclable and compostable alternatives, while plastic bags have also been banned across the city. All of this added up to an 80% diversion rate in 2010, leaving San Francisco well on their way to achieving their 100% target in 2020.

Leading the way – setting an example, reducing energy use and emissions, and moving towards renewable energy across the City.
Adopted in 2008, San Francisco Ordinance 81-08 mandated all City departments to annually collect and report their relevant energy, water and fuels data, each with their own Departmental Climate Action Plans. All of the City’s newly constructed Municipal buildings are built to LEED Gold sustainability standards, part of a regulation first set up back in 2007. In 2011, the City became one of the first in the nation to publish a consumption-based GHG inventory, which covers carbon impacts of the full lifecycle of goods and services in addition to the typically reported energy and fuel from buildings and transportation. To reduce commercial building energy use, the City implemented the Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance, requiring nonresidential buildings greater than 10,000 square feet to benchmark and publicly report their energy use every year, and go through an energy audit every 5. Over 2,400 buildings were affected, and more than $6 million in annual energy savings were identified from just the first 195 audits that were submitted. GoSolarSF is a municipally operated energy incentive program, which offers financial incentives to residents, businesses, and community organizations to install rooftop solar systems, with additional incentives available to low-income residents. Contractors of rebate receivers must be employers of at least one graduate from San Francisco’s workforce development programs. The City has further reduced solar permitting costs and invested in resident education and outreach regarding clean energy and financing options has added to the resulting dozen solar companies that have migrated to the City. Since 2012, $15.5 million in incentives have been provided towards 2,000 solar installations at a capacity of nearly 7 MW.